Every year, there are 40 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 million who suffer from occasional sleep issues. A good night’s sleep is important for overall health. Optimizing bedtime patterns and using design strategies can help improve the quality of your sleep.
Studies have shown that people who get enough quality sleep have stronger immune systems, lowering the risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease than those who aren’t managing 7 – 8 hours a night. Getting regular and quality sleep can result in more effective weight maintenance, and decision making. A lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, and even a shorter life expectancy
Based on the benefits of good sleep, focusing on getting quality sleep is time well spent. There are lifestyle strategies to implement and design solutions to improve the sleep environment.
Exercise has so many benefits for good health, including good sleep. Physical activity helps relieve stress. It increases time spent in deep sleep, the phase when the body boosts cell regeneration, increases blood supplies to muscles and strengthens the immune system. Optimally, exercise should be done during the day.
Keep a regular bedtime, morning and night. The body likes consistent rhythms.
Food and Drink
Avoid eating and drinking close to bedtime, preferably a couple of hours before.
Regulate temperature in the bedroom between 60 and 70 degrees. Light blankets and sheets made from natural fibers are good for layers for body changes through the night. Layers help if you and your partner like to sleep at different temperatures.
Vitamin D and Melatonin supplements have been known to improve sleep. Check with a health provider before trying these products.
Turn off the lights
Keep the bedroom dark.This includes ambient light from alarm clocks, cable boxes, lit light switches and other sources. Turn off screens; tv, cell phones, computers, 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.
A warm bath can help relax the body. Warm, not hot, and no more than 30 minutes before bedtime to give your body a chance to cool down.
Design and Building Solutions
Create quiet and peaceful surroundings to promote quality sleep. Design strategies will help prepare the bedroom for relaxation and sleep.
If you have a separate heat zones in your home, use a timer to regulate the optimal temperature before getting into bed. If the house has central heating or cooling system, use the same strategy. Some space heaters have timers and can used heat up a small room.
Light, even ambient light, can be disruptive to a good sleep. Look around the room at night to see where light is seeping in. Blackout drapes and blinds are helpful to cut light and can add an attractive look to the room. Mixed levels of light sources like overhead fixtures and reading lamps will control the amount of light while getting ready for bed. Dimming overhead lights and using a softer light for reading will reduce stress.
Noise can be a factor to a good night’s sleep. Just ask anyone who has a partner who snores, or a neighbor with a dog who barks at night. Sound dampening materials and techniques reduce outside noise. When building or remodeling, consider using sound dampening windows. These windows have an air pocket between 2 panes of glass designed to absorb the noise. For extreme situations, there are 3 level windows, with a layer of laminate in between the panes instead of air to further reduce noise transferring through windows. Architects and builders often suggest sound walls in residential and condo projects. Sound walls are a construction process using staggered wall framing that create a barrier between rooms, reducing the amount of sound vibration transferring from one room to the next. This is very successful and doesn’t cost a lot of extra money during new construction or a remodel.
Acoustical consultants help determine where sound is coming from, and what intensity levels there are to use appropriate solutions.
Colors have an impact on the ambiance of the room. Nature is a good resource for soothing colors. Soft blues and greens are peaceful. Light tans and grays work well too. If painting isn’t an option, materials and furniture in quiet tones will help relax the mind.
Technology – Home controls have proven to be beneficial for for creating restful surroundings.
Automatic heating controls for the bedroom can be set to either cool or heat rooms prior to bedtime.
- Automatic shades darken and light the bedroom at the right time.
- Lighting can be set to dim a room’s light signalling that it’s time for winding down.
- TVs, phones and other screens can be programmed to shut down before bed, turning off sources of blue light that can be disruptive to a good night’s sleep.
- Smart alarm clocks create a simulated sunrise, encouraging your sleep cycle to coincide with nature, even when nature is not cooperating. Some of these clocks include birdsong and other noises from nature.
- Mattress companies are using new technology to enhance the quality of sleep. New coil springs and materials have been improved to accommodate the sleeper’s activity, size and movement to provide personalized comfort.
- Sleep trackers record sleep patterns and will help to find where improvements can be made.
A good night’s sleep helps the body rejuvenate and promotes good health. Adding peace and comfort helps to reduce stress. Try these lifestyle and design strategies to improve the quality of your sleep.